All the Bears needed to still be playing was for the Packers to beat the Vikings on Sunday when they were three-point favorites.
How fitting that it was the Packers who determined whether or not the Bears would qualify for the postseason, and it was the Packers who might have prompted massive organizational change in Chicago.
The fates of the organizations whose states share a border seem eternally entwined. When one is up, the other is down. When North has it all figured out, South is scratching its head.
The Packers beat the Bears twice this season, and they didn't just beat them, they waxed them. The combined score of the games was 44-23.
The first loss, on the fifth day of the Bears' season, was a stunning buzz-kill. The Bears were coming off a 41-21 opening-day victory over the Colts.
Against the Colts, the offense was at its apex, with Jay Cutler throwing for 333 yards and Michael Bush and Matt Forte combining for three rushing touchdowns. It was Brandon Marshall's coming-out party with 119 receiving yards.
The Bears rebounded nicely from that debacle, but their chance for redemption 13 weeks later stung no less. The Bears had lost four of their last five games, and a victory over the Packers at Soldier Field would have saved their season.
From that point on, it was apparent the Bears would need help to make the playoffs. Help, it turned out, from the Packers.
The Packers made the Bears playoff spectators, prompting the firing of Lovie Smith, in part because he couldn't get past the Pack. And now the Bears will interview Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements for Smith's job.
Clements is running the Packers offense for the first time this season. He was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay the previous six seasons.
Ben McAdoo has replaced Clements as quarterbacks coach, but Clements still keeps a close eye on Rodgers. And Rodgers has had a fine season, leading the NFL in passer rating (108) as well as touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.88).
That's why judging Clements by what the Packers have accomplished offensively isn't as clean as judging, say Mike McCoy by what the Broncos have accomplished offensively. McCoy has complete autonomy running the Broncos offense because head coach John Fox has his roots in defense.
But this isn't Clements' first rodeo. He was an offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2004 and 2005 under Mike Mularkey. And he has had success with many quarterbacks, coaching Rodgers, Brett Favre, Kordell Stewart and Elvis Grbac to Pro Bowl seasons and helping Tommy Maddox win Comeback Player of the Year.
Despite the fact the Packers didn't score enough to win Sunday, Clements and McCarthy have the Packers offense functioning at a very high level. Even in their loss to the Vikings, the Packers scored 34 points and made 24 first downs.
And they should be more dynamic this week in their rematch against the Vikings with the expected return of Randall Cobb, the team's leading receiver who missed the game in Minneapolis with knee and ankle injuries.
Rodgers has played some of his best football down the stretch, the Packers have run the ball more consistently and they have averaged 53 yards more per game over their last five games than they did previously.
But whether or not they can beat the Vikings and advance to play the 49ers in the divisional round (the Vikings would play the Falcons if they win) may depend more on their defense. The Packers will have to contain MVP candidate Adrian Peterson, who has run for 409 yards in two games against the Packers this season.
It should help that safety Charles Woodson is expected to be back in the mix for the Packers after missing nine games with a collarbone injury.
The Bears will be watching with much interest.